PERFECT DAY AT NITTO ATP TENNIS FINALS FOR RF • STARTED BY THIEM AND FINISHED OFF BY FEDERER HIMSELF

Written by: on 15th November 2018
ATP Tour Finals Tennis
PERFECT DAY AT NITTO ATP TENNIS FINALS FOR RF • STARTED BY THIEM AND FINISHED OFF BY FEDERER HIMSELF

epaselect epa07168062 Switzerland's Roger Federer in action against South Africa's Kevin Anderson during their round robin match on day five of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London, Britain, 15 November 2018. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL  |
Switzerland’s Roger Federer in action against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson during their round robin match on day five of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London, Britain, 15 November 2018.  EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

Roger Federer didn’t necessarily need any help from Dominic Thiem at the Nitto ATP Finals on Thursday. But he certainly didn’t mind getting some.

 

Thiem took the pressure off Federer by beginning the final day of round-robin competition in Group B with a 6-1, 6-4 beatdown of Kei Nishikori. Whereas the 25-year-old was already close to mathematical elimination due to an 0-2 record and 0-4 in total sets, Nishikori was sitting at 1-1 with a victory over Federer in his pocket.

 

But the world No. 9′s semifinal hopes took a hit right from the start on Thursday afternoon, as he lost the first three games of the match and accepted a quick breadstick. It was all but over for Nishikori when he was broken again at 3-3 in set two.

 

“I think I gave him too many free points,” the Japanese veteran admitted. “He was playing solid, too. There [were] not too many chances for me today…. I don’t know (why it was a tough week for me). I think I was fresh. I was really tired after Paris, but I took some rest. I don’t know; I just didn’t feel the ball this week. Could be the court or the ball. I don’t know, but yeah, just didn’t play well this week.”

 

Austria’s Dominic Thiem in action during his round robin tennis match against Japan’s Kei Nishikoir at the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London, Britain, 15 November 2018. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

Thiem played well in two of his three appearances this week, but that is not enough when Federer and Kevin Anderson are part of your group. Although the Austrian was eliminated a few hours following his success, he still exits the O2 Arena on a high note.

 

“I just went into that match and wanted to show my real self again, basically because two days ago (against Federer) was really bad,” Thiem said. “I was not feeling good to play such a match in front of such a big crowd. I wanted to have a much better game again today; that’s what I did.

 

“I [made] some adjustments. I tried to have a higher first-serve percentage. Some things definitely paid off. Of course I’m happy that I got the win.

 

“To be honest, I’m not hoping for [a semifinal spot] because it’s not very realistic,” the Austrian admitted prior to Thursday’s night match. “I think both [Federer and Anderson] really deserve to go up. That’s how it’s going to be at the end.”

 

He was absolutely right.

 

Needing to take just five games off Anderson to book a place in the semis, Federer instead won the whole match—defeating the South African 6-4, 6-3 in only one hour and 17 minutes of play.

 

The Swiss, who at yet another tournament has improved with each match, finished with more winners than unforced errors (18 to 14) and broke Anderson four times while dominating the Wimbledon runner-up’s second serve (68 percent of those points won).

 

“Thiem winning maybe helped me, course,” Federer noted, “to come into this match a bit more relaxed.”

 

The 37-year-old can now relax on Friday, knowing he will part of Saturday’s festivities. By getting the top seed from Group B, Federer will likely run into either Alexander Zverev, John Isner, or Marin Cilic on Semifinal Saturday. Anderson, meanwhile, can expect to face Novak Djokovic—but that is still dependent on Friday’s results.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

 

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